Goalkeeping is always a thankless task, goalkeepers are always anti heroes in the beautiful game and no one goes to the match to watch saves, everyone goes to watch nets bulging and goals being celebrated however one goalkeeper you would love to watch between the posts, is towering Watenga Ismail.
He is one of the best goalkeepers in our country, he is so solid and consistently reliable, he is a goalkeeper you would have no hesitation in naming first on the team sheet and has great presence plus distribution too. His presence gives Vipers a huge physiological boost and he commands good reflexes. He is an assured presence in the air, hard to beat in one on one situations, commands the defence well, has a good reach and will rarely drop a ball.
Watenga arrived at Vipers in 2011 during Hamza Muwonge’s reign and was an understudy for a whole season before finally displacing the veteran goalkeeper under Nigerian Ambrose Chukuma’s tenure and has since made Vipers posts his own up to the present time. Watenga’s story is interesting in the sense that the club had gone to preside over an inter region final match in Tororo when Watenga’s impressive saves mesmerised him, his regional team went on to lift the trophy as he was also voted tournament best goalkeeper and a week later, the teenager was enrolled into St Mary’s Kitende on a bursary scheme to further his studies. At school, he won everything that was there to win and after school, Vipers secured his signature.
Watenga burst onto the national spotlight as a youngster when Coach Micho handed him the first cap on 18th May 2014 against Madagascar in 2015 nations cup qualifier and even though Cranes lost, Ismail exhibited a brilliant performance. His point blank save towards the dying minutes as the Madagascans were gunning for a 3-0 lead remains one of the most important saves ever made and it proved a turning point as minutes later, Hamis Diego Kizza scored a goal from the penalty spot which proved to enabled Cranes to go through on away goals rule after a 1-0 win in Kampala. He kept 14 clean sheets in the 26 matches he featured for Vipers during 2014/15 league season enabling the club to lift its second league title in the club history.
As Watenga looks to ever grow into a revelation with each passing game, gaining further on confidence & stability, he will be a key figure in Vipers CAF Champions league maiden appearance.